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Virgin Mobile has at last confirmed the rumours - it will float on the London Stock Exchange next month. The mobile operator is selling off 40 per cent of itself and is hoping the share sale will value the company at about £1bn, according to anonymous sources speaking to Bloomberg.

The company said in a statement: "It is intended that the Global Offer will be completed before the end of July and that shares will be sold to institutional investors in the UK and internationally. All Virgin Mobile employees who have worked for the company for more than a year will also receive a gift of free shares following the listing."

Virgin Mobile chairman Richard Branson said: "In less than five years Virgin Mobile has grown from scratch to acquire more than four million customers. I am very proud of what the team has achieved so far and am confident that, following the IPO, Virgin Mobile will go from strength to strength."

He is stepping down as chairman of Virgin Mobile. His replacemnt is Charles Gurassa, who was previously chief executive of Thomson Travel.

Bankers Morgan Stanley and JP Morgan Chase will run the sale. Virgin claims 2.8m subscribers in the UK. ®

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